PITTSFIELD — Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler will seek a third term, saying he and his team have “more to accomplish.”
Bowler is likely to face Alf Barbalunga, the chief probation officer supervising the Southern Berkshire District Trial Court Probation service. Barbalunga reported on his campaign website that he submitted his campaign signatures ahead of the Memorial Day weekend and will be on the ballot for sheriff.
Bowler said he’s hoping voters will give him another six years in the office to continue “what we started.”
“We’ve accomplished so much over the last 11.5 years,” Bowler said Friday. “It’s very important to myself, and the people at the Sheriff’s Office, to finish what we started. We really feel there’s still more to accomplish.”
Bowler said he wants to continue work to have the House of Corrections contribute to the communities it serves.
“Our responsibility, obviously, is to keep the community safe and we do that by housing some very dangerous individuals from within the community at our facility,” Bowler said. “Our other goal is for those who are imprisoned to our facility to correct their behavior and to give [them] the resources and the tools they need to be successful upon reintegration back into the community.”
In 2020, the office launched an aquaponics program that teaches incarcerated people how to manage the cultivation of lettuce and fish.
Bowler said the program produces 250 heads of lettuce each week for meals at the House of Corrections. Over the last two years, the greenhouse has donated more than 200,000 heads of lettuce throughout Berkshire County.
There’s also the Medically Tailored Meals program — a collaboration between the county jail and Berkshire Health Systems, Fallon Health, Mass Health and CHP. Incarcerated people prepare and deliver meals to residents with chronic illnesses.
Bowler said he backs a relationship between the House of Correction and Williams College which has led to a weekly philosophy course for Williams students and incarcerated people. A partnership with Berkshire Community College brings a welding certification program to the facility.
“Every individual that we release back into the community is a much better person when they leave than [when] they come in,” Bowler said. “We are assisting in creating a stronger, healthier, safer community with the programs that we’ve initiated.”
The office recently became a licensed treatment facility with the state Department of Public Health allowing staff to administer medications that seek to address substance use disorder, including Vivitrol, Suboxone, and methadone. The facility provides counseling and therapy as part of its care for inmates with addiction.
Bowler spent 24 years with the Pittsfield Police Department, working in the detective bureau and with the Drug Unit and Arson Investigations team. He then served as the assistant deputy superintendent of security affairs at the jail and House of Corrections from 2000 to 2002.
In 2011, Bowler was sworn in as the county’s sheriff. He beat former state Rep. Dan Bosley in a primary challenge for sheriff in 2010 and ran unopposed for a second term in office in 2016.